5 California residents charged in alleged conspiracy involving 1000’s of counterfeit iPhones and other Apple devices

Five people have been charged in reference to an operation through which greater than 16,000 counterfeit Apple devices were returned in exchange for real products after which resold over a period of greater than nine years, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a press release on Friday, May 31.

From December 2015 through March 2024, Yang Song, 40, of Corona, and Junwei Jiang, 37, of Los Angeles, allegedly obtained counterfeit Apple iPhones, iPads, and other devices from China. Along with co-conspirators Zhengxuan Hu, 26, of Alhambra, Yushan Lin, 30, of Corona, and Shuyi Xing, 34, of Corona, the defendants allegedly returned devices to Apple as in the event that they were real, legitimately purchased, and eligible for Apple's warranty programs.

Friday's statement said the suspects returned and attempted to return greater than 16,000 counterfeit Apple devices, causing no less than $12.3 million in damages to Apple.

The devices shipped from China were designed to appear to be real Apple devices. The real identification and serial numbers on the counterfeit devices mimicked authentic products purchased under Apple's manufacturer's warranty and prolonged warranty program and owned by real people throughout the United States, in response to the Justice Department.

The suspects claimed the products were broken or nonfunctional and were covered by the corporate's warranty programs. Some of the false reasons given to Apple Store employees included that the device wouldn’t activate, that it was physically damaged or that it had other defects, the affidavit states, in response to prosecutors.

The defendants visited multiple Apple Stores throughout Southern California each day, including as much as ten Apple Stores in Pasadena, Irvine, Brea and Rancho Cucamonga, where they allegedly returned the devices.

Apple allegedly sent the defendants a real substitute or repaired Apple device either to an Apple Store, where they picked up the brand new device, or to the handfuls of drop boxes they allegedly rented throughout Southern California.

In addition, they misspelled the mailing address during returns to hide the many fraudulent returns and used pseudonyms to make appointments at Apple Stores.

After the defendants received the unique devices, they allegedly shipped them to co-conspirators within the United States and abroad, primarily in China, where they resold them for a profit.

“All defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, seven counts of wire fraud, 12 counts of mail fraud, and conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods,” the Justice Department statement said.

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